Posted by: bschutzgruber | January 26, 2015

Critic or Critique?

Critic (noun) a person who expresses an unfavorable opinion of something

For many people, including myself, the idea of having your art judged does not bring happy thoughts to mind and can crush creativity.  My elementary school did not have an art teacher.  A picture from a magazine would be taped to the chalkboard and we were simply told “Draw this.”  The results were always graded using letter grades (A to E) one for content and and one for neatness.  My work, if I was lucky, might…. just might…. get C-/D and there were no suggestions to help me improve my work.  To this day the thought of drawing something sends me into an anxiety attack.

Critique (noun) a detailed analysis and assessment of something

Getting a thoughtful critique can raise art to new levels, broaden perspective and increase creativity. Last year I worked on large felt wall hanging for the annual Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild show which runs the month of February in the lobby of the Power Center for the Performing Arts here in Ann Arbor, MI.

View From Above
(28″ x 82″- felted wool fibers)


This was one of the largest felt pieces I’ve ever made and felting it was physically demanding.  I was pleased with the design – the mix of colors and line movement.  It made a statement, especially from a distance.  I believed it was good enough, so fingers crossed….. I submitted it.

It was not selected and in my disappointment I suddenly found myself emotionally back in elementary school.  But here is where ‘critique’ turned this experience from the negative ‘critic’ into something positive.  The jury committee had made comments.  Some were positive (it was felted well and it did catch attention from a distance) PLUS there comments about where it still needed work:
1) there is no real change in value (light/dark) within each of the colors used
2) there was nothing new to discover once you stepped closer

So for the next year I thought about what I could do to embellish this piece yet stay true to my desire to only use felting techniques.

Using a barbed needle to punch fibers into place,


I needle felted silk fibers to give a broader range of color value and bring more interest and details, then I repeated the wet felting to blend everything together.

Top detail – before and after

ViewFromAbove_top          CoastalWaterways_top

Bottom detail –  before and after

ViewFromAbove_bottom         CoastalWaterways_bottom

I am happy to say that Coastal Waterways was accepted for this year’s Power Center Show.

Critic or Critique?  It’s all in how you say it and where the emphasis is placed.

Coastal Waterways
(26″ x 79″ – felted wool & silk fibers)



  1. Congratulations Barbara 🙂 Well deserved.

  2. Thoughtful writing. Thanks

  3. Thanks Cathy and Alastair.

  4. It’s nice to get comments that can help you improve your work. I have not always run into judges that will go the extra mile to provide this info. The piece is wonderful.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Barb.

  5. I love your finished piece and really appreciate your discussion of critic/critique

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